"Lafleur’s 2017 Merlot came in just before the rain. Cellar Master Omri Ram commented, “The 2017 Merlot was very similar to the 2015. With the Cabernet Franc, we waited; we were patient, and it came in ripe yet more fresh than the Merlot.” As it turns out, that combo of the wonderfully decadent Merlot and the galvanizing Cabernet Franc are just magic! Blended of 47% Merlot and 53% Cabernet Franc, the 2017 Lafleur has a medium to deep garnet-purple color and opens with a positively electric intensity of red and black fruits—cherries, black plums, red currants, black raspberries and mulberries—with touches of roses, cinnamon stick, smoked meats and forest floor plus a hint of truffles. Medium to full-bodied with densely packed layers of red and black fruits accented by floral and earthy sparks, it possesses very firm, very finely pixelated tannins and a lively backbone, finishing with epic persistence.
In 2017, it was pretty much business as usual for Château Lafleur since they were very fortunate not to receive any damage from the frosts. This said, like others on the Pomerol plateau, they did somewhat make their own luck. “We used the candles (buckets of paraffin), 1,500 of these to protect Lafleur,” cellar master Omri Ram informed me. “Along with the wind turbine at Pétrus,” he smiled, referring to the benefit of having Pétrus as a neighbour. This year, Lafleur is taking no chances and they have purchased their own wind machine for frost protection.
So, quantities were stable for Lafleur in 2017, and they enjoyed yields similar to their 2015 and 2016 crops. “A tad less wine than in 2015, a tad more wine than in 2016,” Omri commented. “The berry size in 2017 was tiny—like in 2015.” As readers will ascertain from my scores, Lafleur is one of the few properties that did not miss a beat in 2017, producing a truly extraordinary effort that is stylistically very different from their 2015, but potentially its equal in terms of quality.
At their Grand Village vineyard in Fronsac it was a different story, having been hit by about 50% frost losses there. “We saw that some vines that didn’t look damaged were actually shut down,” said Omri, referring to the difficulty in ascertaining exactly which vines were damaged and which weren’t. “So, we just forgot about 2017 in all the places that were touched by frost and decided to prune back to 87% loss in order to preserve the bud wood for 2018."
97-100 Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
"47% Merlot, 53% Cabernet Franc (Bouschet, a right-bank selection). Very dark. Darkly fragrant. Incredibly pure cassis nose and just a touch of graphite/mineral dustiness. Super-elegant fine tannins, more dark charm than Les Pensées. Paper-fine texture slides across the palate in delicate persistence. Layers of paper giving embryonic complexity. Gorgeous. Utterly refined. Incredibly long. Drink 2027-2040"
18.5 points, Julia Harding MW for jancisrobinson.com
"The 2017 Lafleur was picked 8 to 12 September and 28 and 29 September for the Merlot and Cabernet Franc respectively. It has a very impressive bouquet, frankly, one of the best that I have encountered in Pomerol, perhaps on the Right Bank. Despite the higher proportion of Cabernet Franc, the Merlot is more expressive with black cherries, a touch of cassis, sea spray and a hint of iodine. It just gains intensity with every swirl of the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with firm but fine tannin, layers of black and red fruit mixed with white pepper, sage and a slight ferrous note towards the persistent finish. This is an awesome 2017 from Baptiste Guinaudeau, one of the few that will oblige several years in the cellar."
95-97 points, Neal Martin
"A structured and muscular red with blackberry, dark-chocolate and mineral character. Violet undertones. Very tight and tannic. Full-bodied, extremely closed and concentrated. Steely."
97-98 points, James Suckling
Pomerol, on the Right Bank of Bordeaux’s Gironde River, produces some of the world’s most sought-after wines, including those from such storied properties as Chateau Petrus. Yet Pomerol, the smallest of the fine-wine-producing districts of Bordeaux, offers no Grand Cru or Premier Cru wines: It’s the most significant Bordeaux appellation not included in any quality ranking. At the time of the historic 1855 Classification of Bordeaux, Right Bank chateaux were considered remote and difficult to travel to, and so were ignored by the merchants who created the classification. (St. Émilion, a notable neighbour on the Right Bank, created its own classification system in 1954.)
Pomerol has managed to do quite well without this form of validation. Pomerol’s predominantly clay soil is ideally suited for Merlot, the primary grape used in the appellation. Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are also included in Pomerol’s blended red wines. The wines of Pomerol are lush and rich, and generally not as tannic as the Cabernet-based wines of Bordeaux’s Left Bank. Although Pomerol’s very best wines are capable of aging for decades, most are made for immediate consumption. These Merlot-based wines are known for their lush texture, elegance and grace, as well as the softer tannins they offer in comparison to the Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines made elsewhere in Bordeaux.